subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

What about those reports that “weaker wines are better than stronger ones”?

37 comments

 

You’ve probably read about it: According to Fox News, a new study out of Spain has been widely reported to “prove” that “People think weaker wine tastes better.”

But, in fact, the study doesn’t show that at all; and much of the second-hand reporting on the study actually shows how lazy journalists can be.

For example, the Fox account of the study claims that people think wine with a lower alcohol content tastes [better] because it allows them to focus on the diverse flavor profiles of the beverage.”

That’s a pretty sweeping statement. If you’ve been deep into the alcohol-level tall weeds, as I’ve been, you might think, “Wow, that gives credence to the In Pursuit of Balance argument.” But, in fact, if you read through the entire Fox report, you won’t find a single wine variety mentioned. You will find the implication that wine with 12 percent alcohol “induce[s] a greater…exploration of sensory attributes” than wines in the 14-15 percent range, or higher.

Well, let’s think about that for a minute. Do you really want to drink a 12 percent Zinfandel? A 12 percent Petite Sirah? A 12 percent Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier? In fact, let’s be even more generous and raise the alcohol level on those six varieties to 13 percent. What do you think they’d taste like in California?

Not very good. They wouldn’t be ripe—nowhere near ripe. They’d be all sour in acidity, with chlorophyll flavors and tart green fruit. This is why California vintners allow those varieties to get ripe enough to yield wines above 14 percent and usually above 14.5 percent. In the case of Zinfandel and Viognier, sometimes the alcohol level is 15 percent or higher.

When we’re talking about Pinot Noir (and sometimes Chardonnay), the story is, of course, different. California can indeed produce splendid Pinots below 14 percent in a good vintage, as the recent I.P.O.B. tasting showed. But to use the Spanish study to “prove” that consumers don’t like any wine over 14 percent is completely misleading.

Let’s look at the study itself, not just Fox’s reporting. Its key finding—the one seized upon by so much of the media—is, “significantly greater activation [of the brain’s flavor-processing regions] was found for low-alcohol than for high-alcohol content wines…”. It is this assertion that led to such headlines as:

Does weak wine taste BETTER?” (Daily Mail)

“Wine With Lower Alcohol is More Appealing” (Bustle)

and “Taste Perception Higher With Lower Alcohol Wines” (The Drinks Business)

But, again, the actual study did not identify specific grape varieties that were given to the subjects. (Does anyone really think that a low- alcohol Zinfandel from Amador County or an unripe Viognier from Russian River is “more appealing” than a ripe one?) All the study says is that the wines tasted were red Spanish [varieties] coming from Rioja, Navarra, and Cataluña),” of unidentified grape varieties (although we can presume they were old varieties like Garnacha, Tempranillo and Monastrell; there may have been some Cabernet and/or Merlot blended into them to make them richer). All of the 26 subject tasters were Spanish. From this, we can infer that the subjects all had palates geared towards Spanish (not California) wines. We also can infer that, in all probability, they are not familiar with our California wines that routinely clock in higher than 14.5 percent alcohol. And so, it seems to me, the study has very little application to an assessment of ripeness and alcohol levels in California wines.

Discover Magazine also reported on the Spanish study and also read into it things that are not supported by the facts. They wrote: people tend to pay more attention to the flavor when the alcohol content is low.” Well, I would wager that if you give a big, tasty California Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet, Viognier, etc. to anyone, even Europeans, they would not and could not indict it for lacking in flavor! Some of them might not care for that particular wine—but they’d pay attention. And that’s what makes the world go ‘round: Different strokes for different folks. That doesn’t bother me at all—but sloppy reporting does. The Spanish study simply doesn’t support the “low alcohol wines are better” headlines.

  1. Hello, I wrote the Discover Magazine piece. I agree with this post! And I hope I didn’t read anything into the study that wasn’t supported by the facts. What I wrote was:

    “Frost et al. say that the greater brain activation to low alcohol wines means, not that they contain more flavour, but that people tend to pay more attention to the flavor when the alcohol content is low”

    I didn’t say that I agree with their interpretation! I was just summarizing it.

  2. Awesome piece and so true in so many ways spanning so many different topics.

  3. Steve,

    One overriding factor in any and all of these so called studies is lack of indication of whether tasters were shown wine labels prior to tasting, with alcohol levels disclosed, or were they done in a blind setting (placebo effect and all that). I would bet tasters were able to see labels prior to tasting and making their choices.

    Historically, and the French are masters at rewriting wine history, French wines were suffering in sales when compared to other European regions, Greece for example. Lack of alcohol was primary reason. Only when Haut Brion was made, WITH HIGHER ALCOHOL, did French wines begin to improve and change the course for the better. Let’s not talk about what made Bordeaux world famous and put it on the map, and no, it was NOT Cabernet Sauvignon at the time. Long discussion, that one.

    Underripe reds have a very green streak in the flavor profile. I really can’t imagine people liking it. That green pepper note is a clear indication of grapes lacking PROPER ripeness. And what about way underripe SEEDS and TANNINS in those wines that make them so hard on palates, for hours afterwards? Why is it that people buy RIPE fruits, RIPE vegetables, RIPE cheese, etc, and yet somehow, magically, insist on underripe wine grapes. Do they buy underripe table grapes to go along with cheese course as well? Underripe avocado? I seriously doubt that. Very much.

    That “I ain’t drinking no f**king MERLOT!” was based on most Merlot being picked underripe for eons, leading not only to that green and hollow mid palate, but harsh finish as well due to undeveloped tannins. Drink a properly grown and vinified Merlot and its a great wine, by any standard. That chocolatey and plush mid palate is great, IMO.

    Its too bad that so many so called “professional” wine reviewers conditioned consumers into trusting printed labels rather than their own palates.

    Do you recall last year when Maker’s Mark Bourbon announced they will now make lower alcohol versions and the outcry it created? How about low alcohol beer, does it really sell in the grand scheme of things? Those same “I prefer low alcohol wine” experts, if given a choice between a Kia and a Porsche, how many do you think will take Kia and claim “I want less power”? And yet, for decades on now, same “low/high alcohol” discussion is still going on. Driven by those regions and wines that are incapable of making higher alcohol wine without some serious flaws. So, yes, let’s pay someone for a “study” tat “proves” our criteria. I can 10 of those a day, just let me know what it is you need to “prove”.

    And we should. Independent. DOUBLE BLIND, of course. No labels disclosed until scoring is all done. Line up those same “experts” and watch them fail. Heck, I can place 6 bottles of SAME WINE, from same case, next to each other on the table, all brown bagged, and I’ll bet whatever odds that ALL tasters will say that at least a bottle or two are DIFFERENT WINES altogether. Been there, done that, with ITB professionals. So much for palate education.

    Why is there such an effort to convince people what their palates “should” like or not? I have recently tasted a few people on some incredible Bourbons, for example, to see the reactions. I poured Black Maple Hills and then Noah’s Mill (bottled uncut, one of just a few). Two of the most complex spirits one could find. Reactions? “Terrible”, “how can anyone drink this?”, etc, etc, etc. And yet I observed these same people chug warmish vodka and lower end tequila and loving it. To me caviar is great food, was brought up eating it from early age, to most Americans its “eewww, fish eggs!”

    Why is there such an effort to make consumers conform to someone’s arbitrary standard and then expend so much effort in the endeavor? We need to start calling these “researchers” what they are, FRAUDS WITH AGENDA. None of them, I am sure, buy underripe, green fruits. The day I see one of them eat a completely green banana I may change my view.

    Good post and observations. Its was riper Turley Zins that really put Zin on the map. It was the first wave of riper Cal Pinot Noirs that put Cal Pinot on the map. It was riper Napa Cabs that put them on the map.

    And it was First and Second Growths that developed RO and its use in making wine, routinely these days, year in and year out. Shame that so called “professionals” driving the “low alcohol” message keep forgetting that. How convenient of them.

  4. I do not like high alcohol unbalanced wines. Sure they have stronger flavor as you say but they are more simple and not good with food. Often with residual sweetness. I can drink Glenlivet, but I cannot drink high alcohol wines out side of zinfandel and only if it is dry. I have bought a number of 90+ point rated wines (including a Spanish Monastrell recently) and do not like the balance and simplicity. A Cabernet Sauvignon without any pepper character may as well be a Syrah as the varietal character is embodied in a touch of methoxypyrazine character. More compounds are good in a wine, not having most of them cooked out by over ripening. I think a lot of reviewers and people that taste a lot have their sensitivity burned out from over strong ripe flavors and alcohol along with some sweetness. I agree with the original article and I enjoyed California red wines in the 80’s before Parker got them all to over ripen the fruit.

  5. Jeff Jindra says:

    Wines should be made to be a reflection of a particular grape, in a particular site, and farming input. To pick early, just to create a low alcohol wine seems like a mistake. Sometimes the alcohol will be low and sometimes it will be high. If the flavors are good,the wine carries richness, and all the components work together it shouldn’t matter what the final alcohol is, so long as it fits in the body of the wine.

  6. Paul Moe says:

    Fox News. You know the story is not true. Consider the source.

  7. Bob Henry says:

    “Do you really want to drink a 12 percent Zinfandel? A 12 percent Petite Sirah? A 12 percent Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier? In fact, let’s be even more generous and raise the alcohol level on those six varieties to 13 percent. What do you think they’d taste like in California? Not very good. They wouldn’t be ripe—nowhere near ripe. They’d be all sour in acidity, with chlorophyll flavors and tart green fruit.”

    As John Wayne (or a John Wayne impersonator) might say: “Hold it, Pilgrim” . . .”

    I suspect that 12% to 13% wines could taste like this: older California Cabernets.

    From James Laube’s (circa 2001) piece titled “The Glory That Was Inglenook;
    Decades ago, this Napa Valley estate made California’s grandest wines”

    Link: http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/The-Glory-That-Was-Inglenook_1057

    “In this past year, I’ve had the opportunity to taste most of the great vintages from BV, and even the best wines of the same period from that esteemed winery do not match the Inglenooks in quality. Even if you took the top 25 bottlings of wines such as Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, Phelps Eisele or Insignia, Ridge Monte Bello, Beringer Private Reserve, Chateau Montelena, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars or any of Diamond Creek vineyard bottlings, and tasted them 20 or 30 years hence, I’m not sure they would rival Inglenook’s.

    Each of the aforementioned wineries has proven it can make distinctive, long-lived wines. But none of their older wines, still young by Inglenook standards, have the elegant fruit purity of the great Inglenooks. Of the new cult stars, well, there are many impressive young wines — bottlings from Bryant Family Vineyard, Dalla Valle, Harlan, Shafer (Hillside Select), Colgin, Screaming Eagle and David Arthur. But whether their 1997s will still inspire awe in 2047 won’t be known for years. I wouldn’t count on it. The trend in today’s winemaking is toward wines of immediate gratification, with ripe, rich, plush flavors and textures and jazzy oak. If they age anywhere near as well as the Inglenooks, it will be the result of pure grape quality more than any stylistic intent.”

    Nominally speaking, wines labeled 12.5% ABV.

  8. Bob Henry says:

    A clarification: Those older Inglenooks “Nominally speaking, wines labeled 12.5% ABV.”

  9. Bob,

    We treat alcohol numbers as if they are the goalpost, the end point that is to be reached, and ignore the route to get to those numbers. The wines that you refer to were grown on St. George or AxR rootstock, and of course AxR succumbed to phyloxera. They had high yields (certainly on a per vine basis) and were generally heavily acidified. They worked….the wines were very good, or at least a hand full of them were. But a number of others were not, and those don’t get brought up in conversation because they have long been forgotten.

    I have read these words from Joe Heitz about the wines of his time (from the period to which you refer) and they ring oddly true with what is done today, “You know, a grower would like to have all his grapes in the barn by Labor Day, and I think they should hang on the vines until Christmas, so we’re always squabbling. But this is normal, nothing wrong with that.”

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  10. Bob Henry says:

    For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with it, Adam is quoting from Robert Benson’s peerless California winemaker interview book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Winemakers-California-Conversations-Interviews/dp/0884961079

    “The best is always the enemy of the good.” And it is the best of wines from that epoch that we remember . . . because the have stood he test of time.

  11. Bob,

    So you insist that in a blind/double blind tasting you can reliably tell a high alcohol wine from lower ones? Interesting…

    Alcohol level is just a number on a wine label. That more often than not does not reflect reality and actual drinking experience. Why is it that so many pros fail so miserably in blind tastings? After doing around 400+ mid t high end blind tastings in the past 15 years or so I know what reality is, and well, its not what you think it is.

    If lower alcohol wines are such a panacea that pros insist it is, why do the French DELIBERATELY OVERripen their grapes to then use RO to water them down (so to speak)? And why some of them bottle wines having mid 15% alcohol levels as 13.9%? Year in and year out. With both pros and consumers UNABLE and INCAPABLE to “taste” that and somehow believing that what’s on the label is fact?

    If your taste buds are fooled by a higher alcohol WELL BALANCED wine, then why an argument for a lower alcohol one?

    Its just some number that only matters tax time to wineries. And no one else judging by the UTTER FAILURE of pros and consumers to distinguish it.

  12. Bob Henry says:

    GregP,

    “So you insist that in a blind/double blind tasting you can reliably tell a high alcohol wine from lower ones? Interesting…”

    Methinks you might be confusing me with some other “Bob” . . . as I have never stated or implied that. Ever.

    “Alcohol level is just a number on a wine label.”

    Talk to winemakers. It is more than just a stat printed on a piece of paper, glued to a glass bottle — it is a pocketbook issue, viewed from the perspective of taxation.

    “Why is it that so many pros fail so miserably in blind tastings?”

    That’s a pretty ambiguous statement. What, precisely, are they “failing” at? Implicit in your assertion is some expectation of performance. Please define what that expectation is.

    “. . . I know what reality is, and well, its not what you think it is.”

    To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never exchanged e-mails or spoken, so I don’t know how you can infer what my sense of “reality” is.

    “If lower alcohol wines are such a panacea that pros insist it is . . .”

    I can’t speak for the “pros” you allude to, but from my perspective I haven’t denigrated wines with higher alcohol levels.

    (I cut my eyeteeth drinking 1970s and 1980s Sonoma and Napa “late harvest Zins.” And I enjoy Port — which clocks in at 20% ABV. Do the “In Search of Balance” partisans denigrate a noble wine like Port? I wish their more vocal leaders would self-disclose on that subject. It would be an interesting insight . . .)

    Instead, I downgrade wines that show their higher alcohol levels through a burning sensation at the back of the throat . . . that don’t use their fruitiness to mask the “raw alcohol” bouquet.

    “. . . why do the French DELIBERATELY OVERripen their grapes to then use RO to water them down (so to speak)? And why some of them bottle wines having mid 15% alcohol levels as 13.9%?”

    (Anecdotally, I had heard or read that at least one First Growth was listing a “12% to 15%” alcohol level on their “third label” wine.)

    “If your taste buds are fooled by a higher alcohol WELL BALANCED wine, then why an argument for a lower alcohol one?”

    See above for my aversion to the “raw alcohol” bouquet and tactile sensation.

    “Its just some number that only matters [at] tax time to wineries. And no one else judging by the UTTER FAILURE of pros and consumers to distinguish it.”

    Dan Berger writes the weekly “On Wine” column for the Napa Valley Register. He judges a dozen wine competitions a year. So I think it is fair to call him a wine “pro.”

    He asserts that he can distinguish higher levels of alcohol in contemporary California wines — and characterizes them as unbalanced.

    See my next note for a link to Dan’s columns.

    ~~ Bob

  13. Bob Henry says:

    GregP,

    A link to Dan’s columns at the Napa Valley Register:

    http://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/wine/columnists/dan-berger/

    Here are some pertinent ones on high alcohol levels . . .

    HEADLINE: “Wine labels, government and the truth”

    (Excerpts:

    “. . . the federal regulation says that for wines over 14.0 percent alcohol, there is a 1 percent fudge factor. That is, if a wine is listed as having 14.5 percent alcohol and it can have as much as 15.5 percent. If it really has 15.6 percent alcohol, the wine is out of compliance.

    “At that point, in theory, the offending winery can be penalized. And what is the penalty for being out of compliance on the alcohol in an over-14 percent alcohol wine?

    “Nothing. Over the years, I have spoken with various people who work in government labs testing for wines’ compliance issues. Every one of them has admitted that when they find a wine to be out of compliance, they mail a letter to the offending winery informing them that their wine is out of compliance.

    “Period. No fine, no license suspensions.”)

    HEADLINE: “Bigger: Is it better?”

    (Excerpts:

    “Back in the early 1980s, the common wisdom was that wines with 14 percent alcohol or more were considered high in alcohol. Some even thought 13.5 percent alcohol was a bit too much for a dry red wine aimed at the dinner table.

    “I haven dozens of wines in my cellar from the 1970s that say 12.5 percent alcohol on the label and the wines are all fine to this day.”

    HEADLINE: “The high and low on alcohol”

    (Excerpts:

    “I tasted a pinot noir the other day from a bottle whose label stated that the alcohol was 14.5 percent. It tasted like 16.5 percent. The throat burn was so strong I literally sought antacids.

    “Wine must have alcohol, by definition. . . .

    “. . . for more than a century, 12 percent was about the level of most fine wines.

    “It wasn’t until the late 1970s that a few wines, mainly reds, reached as high as 13.5 percent alcohol. The only exceptions were a few zinfandels that were in the vinous stratosphere at 14.1 percent or so. A handful of such wines came out that were called ‘late harvest.’

    “Today, later picking has resulted in more grape sugar. Since fermentation converts sugar into alcohol (and carbon dioxide), alcohols now are regularly above 14 percent, and many are closer to 15 percent. Since any wine higher than 14 percent alcohol can legally be a full point higher, I’m not surprised when I try wines that taste a lot more alcoholic than their labels state.

    “Many wines are still made with less than 14 percent alcohol because over that level, a higher tax is imposed. . . .”)

    HEADLINE: “Another look at high alcohol content”

    (Excerpts:

    “. . . one thing we know is that higher alcohol in wine has drawbacks, one of which is that alcohol in wine can cover up fruit flavors. A whiff of vodka will prove that.

    “Added proof came from food chemist Harold McGee in a New York Times article published July 27 in which he stated:

    “’It’s no secret that the alcohol in drinks can get in the way of our enjoying their flavors. When alcohol makes up more than 10 to 12 percent of a liquid’s volume, we begin to notice its irritating, pungent effects in the mouth and in the nose.’

    “Later, he added, ‘…the more alcoholic a drink is, the more it cloisters its aroma molecules, and the less aroma it releases into the air. Add water and there’s less alcohol to irritate and burn, and more aroma release.’

    “But adding water, although it may help uncover some aromas in wine, can dilute flavors.

    “A better strategy is to simply grow the grapes in a way that allows for better maturity at lower grape sugars. . . .”)

  14. Bob Henry says:

    GregP,

    A link to Dan’s columns at the Napa Valley Register:

    http://napavalleyregister.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/wine/columnists/dan-berger/

    Here are some pertinent Dan Berger columns on the loss of varietal correctness . . .

    HEADLINE: “Character study”

    (Excerpts:

    “There are aspects of wine character that seem not to have as great an impact on wine lovers as they did decades ago. One is varietal character. The other is regional character.

    Varietal character is the aroma and taste of a wine as it relates directly to the grape that is dominant in its makeup. . . .

    Then there are the distinctive regional notes, the “terroir” character. . . . and it refers to subtle elements of aroma and taste characteristics that are related only indirectly to the grape and which come from the region in which the grapes grow.

    This works, in theory, for all the great grapes in the world. So a red Bordeaux that’s made largely from cabernet sauvignon may be similar to a Napa Valley Cabernet.

    What sets them apart, say the terroirists among us, is that the regional characteristics of the wines are radically different.

    . . . Pour the wines blind for the so-called experts, and ask them to tell which is which. Once the blindfolds go on, all bets are off. As skilled as a taster can be, there is no substitute for looking at the label when determining a wine. And blind tastings are humbling experiences for the best tasters in the world.

    And one reason blind determinations are harder to make than ever is ripeness.

    The riper a grape is picked, the more likely it will be to stop resembling its varietal or its region. That’s because very late-harvested fruit tastes more like raisins; the varietal and regional elements are masked by such ultraripeness.

    Over the last decade, wine makers around the world have picked their fruit riper and riper, and as they have, alcohol levels in the wines have risen. Once, the average alcohol in table wines was about 12 percent. Today, it’s closer to 15 percent.

    All this has done is to rob many (most?) wines of their regional and varietal distinctions and left purists with less to like.

    HEADLINE: “Blind tasting and alcohol”

    (Excerpts:

    “The comment was unsolicited and surprised me by its bluntness — and notably because it came from a respected Sonoma County wine maker who makes a well-regarded cabernet.

    “‘I don’t drink my cab,’ he said. ‘I just make it. It has too much alcohol for me.’

    “His remark was uttered about eight years ago in the midst of a blind tasting of 12 cabernets, one of which was his, and was followed by knowing nods from the other wine makers in the tasting.

    “More alcoholic wine sells better than better balanced wine, said a few of the wine makers, ‘and we have to make what sells,’ said one.”)

    HEADLINE: “The decline of ‘cabernet-ness'”

    (Excerpts:

    “The cynic in me has been saying for a few years that the more you pay for a cabernet sauvignon, the less like cabernet sauvignon it smells and tastes.

    “. . . a discussion I had recently with four men who ought to know helped certify the concept.

    “All have long made wine and are judges at major wine competitions where, in the last two decades, they have seen a decline in the cabernet-ness of California’s most popular red wine.

    “Three of the men are current winemakers and didn’t want to be identified for this story. The fourth is Dr. Richard Peterson, former longtime wine maker (Beaulieu Vineyard) and a consultant to many wineries.

    “Peterson said he was dismayed by many of the high-end cabernets he has tried over the last few years, noting that so few of the expensive wines he tastes have much relationship to the grape variety.

    “After trying a number of $30 to $40 cabs recently, Peterson said, he was struck by the fact that there was very little to like in these wines, which he said were “dark and heavy.” He said almost all of the wines had overripe flavors, a lot of oak, high alcohol, low acidity, and a lot of tannin.

    “‘These wines were not cabernets,” he said. “They were caricatures of cabernet!”

    “We chatted about the fact that many red wines, not just cabernets, recently have become so intensely colored and flavored that they defy identification. As such, it has become impossible to taste the merlot in a merlot, the syrah in a syrah, or indeed virtually any distinctive varietal character in a varietally labeled ‘red wine.'”)

    “Peterson noted . . . that there was better varietal character in many wines at lower prices.

    “‘I have noticed something interesting: Low to medium-priced red wines tend to keep their alcohol levels under control, but most of the super-high-priced wines do not.’ And that, he said, accounts for more varietal-ness in lower-priced wines.

    “I think many lower-priced reds are deserving of the public’s support,’ he said, but that many of the more alcoholic and pricey wines do not have much to recommend them.

    “One reason that lower-priced wines typically have lower alcohol levels is that profit margins on such wines are lower, thus wineries try to make them more cost effectively. And one way to save money on such wines is to keep alcohols down.

    “By U.S. law, the federal tax on wines with less than 14 percent alcohol is $1.07 per gallon, and the tax on wines with more than 14 percent alcohol is $1.57 per gallon.

    “As a result, many broad-market cabs are under 14 percent, which usually leads to better balance.”)

    HEADLINE: “Dan Berger: The collapse of cabernet”

    (Excerpts:

    “Cabernet has undergone a makeover that has, probably forever, made it little more than a parody of itself, entering a realm that 20 years ago I never would have believed.

    “. . . What follows is a brief look at the collapse of what once was California’s most prized possession.

    “First, let’s look back on what cabernet used to be. It was dry red wine. It was aged in oak not for oaky flavor, but for maturity and complexity. It was modest in alcohol — 12.5 percent for the vast majority; a few ‘over-the-top’ wines reached 13.5 percent.

    “Also, it was designed to be aged a little bit, and a few a lot longer. When very young, the wines were tannic and needed taming. I still have some 1970s cabs in the cellar that are in great shape.

    “Moreover, once the wines got some bottle age and a bit of bouquet, they went nicely with food. Since they had good acid levels, food was a near necessity, and the list included steaks, chops, stews, roasted chicken, game and more.

    “What we have today, mainly at the $30-and-above price point, are wines that are the near antithesis of this: high in alcohol (almost nothing of supposed quality is less than 14.5 percent; some are 16 percent), very low acid levels (which almost guarantees that the wines won’t age well), and actual residual sugar in many.”

  15. Well written and relayed Bob. I concur in my opinion with all that you have researched and written. A port wine can be different as the grapes may not be over ripened as much as you would think and the flavors are not ripened out. With the brandy addition and the residual natural sweetness from an incomplete fermentation many flavors are preserved. A good port wine with the dessert level sweetness and flavor complexity intact is better than a over ripened red wine nearly dry and often with alcohol levels not necessarily attenuated by much.

  16. Bill Haydon says:

    Alcohol, in and of itself, is not the sin, GrepP. The sin is that to get that ridiculously ripe, jammy fruit (which the underlying goal of high alc), acidity drops precipitously, thus necessitating a large acid adjustment and most likely a heavy slathering of oak to cover it all up and give it some sense of grace. The wines are hideous, and that’s what comes through to tasters more so than specific abv levels. And I don’t know what the chemists might say, but I can tell a highly acidified cab particularly as it gains some bottle age. All that added acid just strips away from the fruit leaving a harsh, tannic shell and browned out fruit. I think anyone who has tasted a 10 or 15 year retrospective on Parker cult cabs knows exactly what I’m talking about.

    I would also say that European terroirs are more suited to pushing for extended hang time because A) they are cooler and B) the soils are more austere so that those grapes are still hitting the cellar with higher acidity levels and lower pH levels. Try chasing that Parker score….errr I mean high alcohol…..in a warm Cali climate with exuberantly fertile soils (think about how much of Napa Valley was dedicated to prune production prior to 1970!), and you get something completely different than in a cool climate and soil dominated by limestone/slate/granite.

  17. Bill,

    What’s your experience with malic levels as compared to tartaric levels in those cooler climates (particularly those where the growing season is shorter but the length of daylight is longer in the peak of summertime)?

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  18. Cooler climates would have higher malic acid levels as sunlight increases sugars and heat dissipates malic acid during ripening. I would suspect there is little if any malic acid left in the over ripened grapes and subsequently after the Malolactic Fermentation there would be less lactic acid in the over ripened grapes wine. This would make for a wine of less lactic fermentation complexity.

  19. Bill Haydon says:

    Adam,

    It’s not something that I’ve really delved into, so I would appreciate any knowledge and opinions that you might have on the subject.

    I will say that I’m increasingly viewing the issue of soil fertility/austerity as an even greater factor in the grapes TA, acid profile and pH than climate. I somewhat stumbled onto this working with Pugliese producers on the coast of Solento. While they are a bit cooler than the inland areas, the greatest difference is that they’ve moved away from the fertile volcanic hillsides and are growing in some really crappy sandy soils (some of it marshland that was reclaimed for ag in the 60s). Here they’re getting extended hang times and making primitivo in the mid to high 14s, yet the wines don’t need any acid adjustment whatsoever and are much better balanced than the wines grown inland and to the North. Tasters are actually rather surprised when they see the alc levels.

    Another interesting case study has been Ruche. The wines have scorching acidity even when alc is in the high 14s, and I’ve yet to form an opinion on whether this is a function of grape physiology, climate (it’s cool) or soil (limestone) or, most likely, all three coming together. It’s a grape that I would be very interested to see the results of in California.

  20. Bill,

    Fascinating. I wasn’t aware that you are in the business as I’ve never seen you disclose that in your signature line. — I’m not sure how the examples you give could help translate into California viticulture (except perhaps the planting of Ruche’ – though I was under the impression that it didn’t hold acidity quite as well as Nebbiolo).

    Keith and Bill, what we deal with both on the Sonoma Coast and in Oregon is frequently an issue of acid balance. While the grapes come in at good acid levels, the problem is that the malic percentage is (as Keith stated) high. Often quite high. Normally we would like about 1/3 of the acid to be malic…but in the areas I mention we have seen numbers up to 2/3 of the acid being malic. Thus, once the wine goes through ML, a notable acid addition needs to be made. We far prefer making acid adds as juice (and this is where I think Bill may not be looking at the whole picture when he mentions tasting acid additions — I think it is timing of the additions he is tasting). Making an acid add on juice that is 3.3 is a bit risky but necessary depending on malic % and potassium levels.

    In areas that are somewhat warmer (not hot mind you), we find that while the starting pH is higher, the malic percentage is more in line with the 1/3 area that we want, and thus we don’t have to add acid (or not nearly as much acid) to have a balanced wine.

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  21. Different grapes have different chemical and acid make up. Need to compare apples to apples. I used to (as an amateur) make Ruby Cabernet from California grapes. It had lower sugar and higher acids from the same area as Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Zinfandel had higher acids than Cabernet Sauvignon also. The Ruby Cabernet made better wine in the same year I made them all. I also made a Chancellor based wine that beat them all and won a best of show in an amateur competition from local grapes. I was not fond of the weak tannin structure, but others found the flavor profile to be superior. It is a matter of having the right grapes in the right place whether it be soil or climate. I prefer traditional style wines with balance and complexity and ability to age. Not fond of what has come to winemaking that is considered good when it reminds me of many country style amateur attempts to maximize strength of flavor and alcohol. It seems many are becoming an industry of country winemakers. When you get a bunch of reviewers over tasting all the time I suspect palates get burned out and the strongest ones seem to shine through to them. I think things have gone to an extreme because everything needs some sort of moderation including tasting frequency and volume. I suspect a lot of palate fatigue has lead us to this.

  22. I don’t make Norton or Baco Noir. But they are grapes with notorious high acid and high pH. The wineries that make them do a fair bit of manipulation of these when they are made. Generally adding tartaric and cold stabilizing to pull out the excessive potassium and also putting through MLF to reduce the high malic acid. It would vary according to site and winemaking style. I prefer grapes with less manipulation required myself.

  23. “I prefer grapes with less manipulation required myself.”

    Me too! 🙂 http://www.drvino.com/2011/11/17/chaptalization-bordeaux-wine/

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  24. In some places sugar needs to be added (labruscas), as well as tartaric acid in others. It is a more basic manipulation which is more or less necessary for balance, not the extra stuff to get a balance out of something that has excess of something.

  25. Bill,

    We seem to agree that alcohol is not really the issue, but then you move the discussion into a whole new area. Are we still discussing the main topic of this thread that lower alcohol wines are somehow proven to be the panacea, as claimed in some paid hack’s study without placebo? Start a thread on acidity, I’ll play. Better yet, a thread on balance of all components in wine, this is what needs to be discussed, not some number on bottle label that means absolutely nothing in between tax filings.

    I do not drink Napa Cabs, mostly for the reasons you mentioned. Last bottle of well reviewed ’97, last month, was nothing but oak extract with fruit making a faint appearance in between oak, oak and more oak with tannins clasping down for hours after. Not that that winery’s Syrah is any better, actually much worse. But then again I can say that about many Bords as well, so I think it is unfair to only point out one specific region and act as if Old World is immune to the same faults. Too many Bords display way too much acidity since it is usually matched up to a shrill, hollow mid palate. Longer growing season or not. BALANCE is key, whether Cali or Old World.

    When I started tasting Italian wines with a distributor rep, back in the ’90s, my first impression was of my tooth enamel being stripped off. Can’t say I enjoyed that. Yes, your palate kind of “adjusts” eventually, but the question is, WHY DO THAT?

    “Study” after “study”, its the bad wines of Cali and great wines of Old World, people and their palates just “don’t understand what’s good for them”. If Old World wines are so great, why expend so much time and energy trying to convince people? Old World wines, being so great, should sell as easily as crack on 125th and Broadway and without any prodding or mass beatings, no?

    I rarely bought Cabs for the reasons you mention, and stayed with Pinots and some well grown colder climate Syrah that did not need much adjustment at the winery.

    Checking sugar levels near picking time was just one aspect, as Adam stated, I was more concerned with acidity levels so that later acid adds were almost not required. Or rather, rarely were required, and if sugars at that point were less than “optimal” that was fine with me.

    One major issue with wine reviewers is that almost all of them spit, something I never understood. How does one know if a wine has balanced acidity if wine’s finish is NEVER TESTED? This, more than anything else, has led to wines that have huge mid palates and then die off in a split second due to less than short finish since wineries know reviewers never get to that point of tasting. To me, any wine without at least a mid length finish has no value, don’t care about reviews nor point scores at that point. Many a time I tasted some wine with no finish at all and then listened to glowing adjectives from those around me, those who just spat their sampler out. Oh, well…

  26. Bill Haydon says:

    GrepP, I think we’re largely in agreement. Alcohol levels are not solely the issue. Rather, it’s one of looking at the wines holistically, and excessive alcohol naturally leads to discussing its effect on acid and pH levels and on to that elusive concept of balance (cue Potter Stewart). How can a primitivo at 14.5% from Solento be balanced and need no acid adjustment whereas one grown inland Puglia (or St Helena) come off as high alcohol and unbalanced at the same abv? When I taste a wine blind and guess that it has high alcohol, it’s usually a more holistic evaluation of the wine rather than pinpointing solely the abv.

    Many of my detractors here have argued that consciously shooting for low alcohol in California leads to wines with unripe fruit and tannins. And I’m largely in agreement with this, but you have to take that line of thinking to its conclusion. That logical conclusion is that if Cali is largely unsuited to making low alcohol wines then by extension it’s largely unsuited to making balanced wines because the laws of grape physiology are not discarded at the California border. If you have to get extreme ripeness to get fully developed flavors and ripe tannins, then you are going to have unbalanced wines in need of heavy acidulation. And I’m starting to come to the conclusion that this is a problem more of soil fertility and exuberance than of climate.

    I don’t think that Calera has made some of the most well balanced wines in California history as a result of being slightly cooler than Napa Valley and actually warmer than Carneros. I think the key to those wines laid in Josh Jensen’s dogged determination to find one of the few patches of limestone anywhere in California.

  27. Bob Henry says:

    GregP writes:

    “One major issue with wine reviewers is that almost all of them spit, something I never understood. How does one know if a wine has balanced acidity if wine’s finish is NEVER TESTED? This, more than anything else, has led to wines that have huge mid palates and then die off in a split second due to less than short finish since wineries know reviewers never get to that point of tasting.”

    Los Angeles Times profile of Robert Parker, on how “long” he savors a wine before passing judgment on it with a score.

    [CAPITALIZATION used for emphasis. – Bob]

    Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times “Main News” Section
    (February 23, 1999, Page A1ff):

    “He Sips and SPITS — and the World Listens;
    Wine writer Robert Parker may be the planet’s most powerful critic.
    His controversial views influence the industry and its sales globally,
    and have helped increase consumers’ knowledge.”

    (Series: First of Two Articles)

    Link: http://articles.latimes.com/print/1999/feb/23/news/mn-10770

    By David Shaw
    Times Staff Writer

    PARKER IS KINOWN AS A FAST TASTER. . . .

    Parker looks at each wine, sniffs, swirls, sips, sucks air into his mouth and gurgles. (The swirling and gurgling help aerate the wine and give a sense of how it’s likely to develop in the glass.) Then he SPITS it out. Each wine is in his mouth for maybe FOUR OR FIVE SECONDS.

    If his first taste suggests that a wine is not worth at least 80 points, he won’t taste it again. “Why bother?” he asks. “You might just as well take your clothes off and say, ‘Beat me, beat me.’ ”

    But any wine that initially seems to merit 80 points or more is TASTED TWICE, MAYBE THREE TIMES IN SUCCESSION before Parker determines its final score. HE DOESN’T LINGER OR PONDER. It’s as if he has a small, carefully calibrated computer embedded in his palate: Wine in, judgment out. As soon as he SPITS, he scribbles several lines of descriptive material in his notebook, adds a precise score for a bottled wine or a narrow range of scores (say, 88-91) for a “barrel sample” — wine too young to have been bottled yet — and moves on to the next.

  28. Bob Henry says:

    Bill writes:

    “I will say that I’m increasingly viewing the issue of soil fertility/austerity as an even greater factor in the grapes TA, acid profile and pH than climate.”

    — and —

    “I don’t think that Calera has made some of the most well balanced wines in California history as a result of being slightly cooler than Napa Valley and actually warmer than Carneros. I think the key to those wines laid in Josh Jensen’s dogged determination to find one of the few patches of limestone anywhere in California.”

    André Tchelistcheff was a big proponent for planting on limestone.

    The old Hoffman Mountain Ranch (later acquired by Adelaida Cellars) in Paso Robles has it — planted to Pinot Noir.

    Calera has it — planted to Pinot Noir.

    Chalone has it — planted to Pinot Noir.

  29. Bob Henry says:

    Bill writes:

    “Many of my detractors here have argued that consciously shooting for low alcohol in California leads to wines with unripe fruit and tannins. And I’m largely in agreement with this, but you have to take that line of thinking to its conclusion. That logical conclusion is that if Cali is largely unsuited to making low alcohol wines then by extension it’s largely unsuited to making balanced wines because the laws of grape physiology are not discarded at the California border. If you have to get extreme ripeness to get fully developed flavors and ripe tannins, then you are going to have unbalanced wines . . .”

    My experience from drinking California Cabernets from the 1970s and 1980s is that the best examples are both fully ripe and have “low” (read: 12-plus percent) alcohol levels.

    In some vintage (e.g., 1985), Cabernet winemakers taking a page from the UC Davis playbook overly acidulated their wines — evinced by a mean streak of unnatural acidity when tasted many years later.

    But the historical record is clear: the types of California red wines that Bill seeks do exist. Mostly in collector’s wine cellars. But not necessarily on wine merchants’ shelves.

    Contemporary examples of that style of Cabernet come from “the old men” vines — on higher elevation properties (e.g., Ridge Monte Bello Vineyard). Or on the Valley floor (e.g., J.J. Cohn Vineyard sourced for Scarecrow Cabernets. See http://www.latimes.com/food/drinks/la-fo-0328-virbila-scarecrow-20150328-story.html).

    The replanting of the North Coast vineyards due to phylloxera led to the loss of so many “old men” vines.

    Replaced by exuberantly productive young vines from different clones, different planting density, different trellising systems, and reliant upon drip irrigation instead of dry farming.

    No wonder the experience in the glass is so different.

  30. Maybe some of the growing methods and training now seem to need to be reviewed. Grapes are not trained the same as they were in the 80’s and of course the rootstocks are primarily different. Many of the rootstocks may cycle sugars earlier than AXR1 and also training methods have been revised to enhance ripeness. Maybe sugar ripeness ahead of other factors is a side affect. Most of these techniques are based on Shaulis work at Cornell in New York, where the opposite problem exists of getting sugar levels up when other factors of the grape are ripe. Richard Smart (whom I have not been a total fan) was a student of his, and he has been primary in spreading his thoughts on growing in Australia and the USA. Couple that with Mr Rapid Taster mentioned above and you get what has become popular. My take is even judging in organized tasting is pretty much a crap shoot. The best way to judge a wine is to set down with a bottle (or even a couple over time) and see how it evolves. Quick tasting may be OK for simpler products (like coffee, tea, beer,& spirits), but it is a shot in the dark for wine which is a true living beverage. Half the problem is reviews at one time long ago were done mostly with one wine drank over a bit of time. Now its gargle and spit and that may be OK for a simple product, but wine it does little justice and in the end with are blessed with over high alcohol, super ripe fruit and one dimensional wines.

  31. Bob Henry says:

    The downside of rapid tasting: not capturing the full measure of the wine.

    Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times “Food” Section
    (May 6, 2009, Page E1ff):

    “Call It Aroma Therapy for Wine”
    [Decanting]

    Link: http://articles.latimes.com/print/2009/may/06/food/fo-wineair6

    By W. Blake Gray
    Special to The Times

    “Air is one of the most talked about but most misunderstood elements in wine.

    “We say a wine needs to ‘breathe’ as if it just needs a few minutes to freshen itself up, releasing its seductive perfume. In fact, most wines have been waiting years just to cast off a little gas.

    “In the end, the result is the same: To be appreciated, a wine needs to smell its best. To do that, it needs more air, faster, than you might think — but not for the reasons you might have heard.

    “People talk about a wine being ‘closed’ . . . [but] to wine researchers, “closed” means nothing. It’s just another metaphor . . .

    “‘The word “closed” does not have a physical meaning for sensory testing,’ says Andrew Waterhouse, chairman of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis.

    “Further, Waterhouse says the implication that a ‘closed’ wine is missing something is a misdiagnosis. In fact, rather than withholding scents, the wine is actually giving you something extra: sulfur compounds that are potent enough even in tiny amounts to cover up the fresh fruit aromas you want to smell.

    “Sulfur occurs naturally in both grapes and the yeasts that turn grapes into wine. Sulfur forms more than 100 compounds called mercaptans. These sulfuric compounds form differently and unpredictably in every bottle of wine.

    “When exposed to air, they eventually re-form into something less annoying, but they need a few minutes to do so. We call it ‘breathing,’ but it’s really a seething sea of recombining elements.

    “‘I think of wine as a tier of about 100 different compounds that are either taking on oxygen or passing it on to something else,’ says Kenneth Fugelsang, associate professor of enology at Cal State Fresno. ‘When that process is finished, the wine is ready to drink.’

    “Even if you don’t smell rotting cabbage, asparagus or burnt rubber — some of mercaptan’s more noxious calling cards — sulfur compounds are still what keep you from fully enjoying wine right away.

    “‘These reductive compounds are excellent masking agents,’ Fugelsang says. ‘They can hide the positive characteristics of any wine.'”

    . . .

    IS FOUR TO FIVE SECONDS SAMPLING TIME SUFFICE FOR THE SULFUR COMPOUNDS TO BLOW OFF TO REVEAL THE UNDERLYING FRESH FRUIT AROMAS?

    THIS ISN’T JUST A ISSUE WITH ROBERT PARKER’S METHODOLOGY.

    IT ALSO BEGS THE QUESTION: HOW MUCH TIME DO WINE COMPETITION JUDGES ACCORD EACH SAMPLED WINE BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT GLASS? THE NEXT FLIGHT OF GLASSES?

    (Having served as a county fair wine judge, my experience is: not much time at all. Less than I would have preferred.)

  32. When you start getting the rubber boot or burnt rubber characters its usually a problem with elemental sulfur sprayed on vines for powdery mildew control. The only grapes I ever washed were ones that had some slight evidence of residual sulfur form Lodi ages ago as an amateur winemaker. Can result in H2S also. Yes, a little excess free SO2 can cover up some of the fruit. Wine is generally in a reduced state in the bottle and needs a little air to open up as article mentioned.

  33. Bob Henry says:

    Adam,

    See below.

    Bob

    From the San Francisco Chronicle “Wine” Section
    (February 29, 2008, Page F1ff):

    “The Essentials: Is Europe Too Sweet on Chaptalizaton?;
    Age-old practice of boisting alcohol with sugar spurs debate among winemakers”

    Link: http://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/Is-Europe-too-sweet-on-chaptalization-3292803.php

    By Jim Clarke
    Special to The Chronicle

  34. Bob Henry says:

    Bill:

    See below.

    Bob

    From the San Francisco Chronicle “Wine” Section
    (December 27, 2007, Page F1ff):

    “2007 Winemake3r of the Year: Josh Jensen, Calera;
    Traditionalist from the ground up”

    Link: http://www.sfgate.com/wine/article/2007-Winemaker-of-the-Year-Josh-Jensen-of-Calera-3300138.php

    By Jon Bonne
    Chronicle Wine Editor

  35. Bob Henry says:

    Let me correct some TYPOS resulting from a less-than-robust WI-FI connection, creating latency issues when typing up my comments.

    From the San Francisco Chronicle “Wine” Section
    (February 29, 2008, Page F1ff):

    “The Essentials: Is Europe Too Sweet on Chaptalizaton?;
    Age-old practice of BOOSTING alcohol with sugar spurs debate among winemakers”

    From the San Francisco Chronicle “Wine” Section
    (December 27, 2007, Page F1ff):

    “2007 WINEMAKER of the Year: Josh Jensen, Calera;
    Traditionalist from the ground up”

  36. Bob Henry says:

    Continuing on the subject of replanting the North Coast due to phylloxera, see this viticultural article.

    From the St. Helena Star / Napa Valley Register
    “Spring Wine Edition 2010” (Insert Supplement, Page 8ff):

    “Disease-Resistant Rootstock?;
    As old as dirt, mycorrhiza is taking Napa Valley’s vineyards back to nature”

    Alternate link: http://napavalleyregister.com/star/business/disease-resistant-rootstock/article_017563fb-acfe-56ef-b6cd-783bcb56e635.html

    By John Lindblom
    WINE EDITION

    Good news travels slow. In the case of a microbological fungus that promises a future of disease-resistant rootstock in the vineyards, it has taken 460 million years to reach the Napa Valley.

    St. Helena nurseryman Bruce Coulthard is the driving force for the beneficial fungus, mycorrhiza — which has the scientific name of Ectomycorrhizal fungi. Either name is difficult to pronounce, but it has had a pronounced effect on all plant-life that it has been introduced to — including trees.

    A tree nursery Coulthard owned several years ago, in fact, was where he began experimenting with mycorrhiza. It was not long before “lumber companies came to us because our trees were so superior,” he said. For the Pacific Northwest, Coulthard annually grew five million redwood transplants in his Napa Valley nursery.

    There’s nothing really new about mycorrhiza. It is, quite literally, as old as dirt. “Europeans understand it, American people have not,” said Coulthard. Among the last to catch on, he said, are many Napa Valley grapegrowers. About 1,700 acres in the Valley acres have been adapted so far.

    “The goal is to make sure that the grape industry has disease-resistant rootstocks,” Coulthard explains. “Put them in the ground and they’ll last 100 years like the old-timers did when this was a zinfandel area. Those vines are still growing uninterrupted because back then man didn’t mess with the soil.”

    Coulthard held up two pictures of roots.

    “This is what God gave us,” he said of the photo in which the roots were freely spread out “ . . . and this what man has done to mess it up,” he said of the photo in which the roots were constricted by a flower pot. “When roots are spread out they are able to adapt to soils easier.”

    Coulthard said that Dr. Robert Linderman, for decades a researcher at Oregon State University and a principal authority on mycorrhiza, and Nick Freemeyers, a forester in the Northwest, “taught me everything I know about” mycorrhiza.

    A research document by Linderman describes how mycorrhizal fungi wraps itself around the outside of a plant’s roots without penetrating the cell walls, essentially forming a sheath that stimulates root growth.

    THE NEXT LEVEL

    Now Coulthard wants to take it to the next level and in the process create:

    • More efficient root systems, reducing water needs by 20 to 40 percent;

    • Better adaptation to soils; and

    • A better natural-growth, or hyphel, system in which plants more efficiently take up nutrients and water, and, as a result, grow healthier.

    “Basically, mycorrhiza is right at the pinnacle,” he said. “But it’s not just mycorrhiza. It’s all those other components in the soil that work together. Without those components it won’t work as well.”

    And those components are . . . ? Coulthard isn’t saying because that proprietary secret is the bedrock of Genesis, the family business he started 15 years ago. He is a man who is well-rooted in Napa Valley vineyards, having planted a good many of them, and claims to have operated the largest private nursery in California.

    Coulthard is just now beginning to market a product under the label of Rhizo-Gen, which is trademarked.

    STRONG SUPPORT

    He has a strong proponent in Spring Mountain Vineyards’ premier vineyard manager Ron Rosenbrand, who employs a number of organic-growth practices, including the application of mycorrhiza during the past 10 years, the most recent five in association with Coulthard.

    “I think it’s a mindset where to bring something back and to gather all the data it is going to take time, it takes growing seasons. You can’t just do it like that,” said Rosenbrand, who deplores what he calls “immediate-gratification growing.”

    “Organic growers take the patience to replenish beneficial microorganisms in the soil,” he said.

    Said Coulthard: “You are killing the golden goose. People are force-feeding (vines) fertilizer because they’re getting instant results, but they are going to continue shocking their plants with loads of fertilizer. It’s going to react as a sterile plant. It’s not going to be able to combat diseases.”

    In many cases, he said, force-feeding vines has led to instances when vines that should have been approaching their prime after seven to eight years had to be pulled.

    [Bob’s aside: see next comment.]

    At Spring Mountain, Coulthard said, “Grape vines that were inoculated with mycorrhiza were 48 inches tall in the first growing season. The ones that were not inoculated from the same lot were about half that.”

    Inoculation is accomplished through drip systems after about two hours of irrigation.

    “You will see the color of the water change,” said Coulthard. “After that’s completed, you follow up with a gallon or two afterward. Fall is a very good time to apply because that’s when the temperatures are down and you get most of your root growth. The plants naturally anchor themselves in for winter. In spring you don’t have to catch up, because the plant has already stored carbohydrates over the winter.”

    Augmented by the documented success in the vineyards of Spring Mountain, Coulthard said he hopes to change the way grapes are grown.

    “There is no place else in the world I know of that has done this kind of report,” he said.

  37. Bob Henry says:

    From Wine Searcher
    (March 11, 2014):

    “California Vines Age Prematurely;
    An early addiction to irrigation might be the reason that vines planted in California in the 1990s are not aging gracefully.”

    Link: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2014/03/california-vines-age-prematurely

    By W. Blake Gray

Leave a Reply

*

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives